Coetzee seems to be attacking the New Age tyranny of therapeutic discourse here, but David's own language doesn't seem much more trustworthy. He rashly tells his judges that his liaison with the pretty and almost totally passive Melanie transformed him, if only briefly: "I was no longer a fifty-year-old divorci at a loose end. I became a servant of Eros." Readers may well be repelled by David's arrogance, and his conduct with Melanie has fallen only a little short of rape. But judging him is not a simple matter. He is a student of Romanticism whose unrealized ambition is to write a chamber opera about Byron's life in Italy. No matter how little of our sympathy David may command, he has a point: If he genuinely believed his passion for Melanie was the real thing, the flame he had been waiting his whole life to feel, then how could he not pursue her avidly?


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